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Unit 3: Revolutions and Reaction

Lesson F: Costs and Benefits of Industrialization in The West

Activity 3: Democracy in Industrial Europe

By the start of the 20th century in Western Europe, many countries had extended voting rights to greater portions of their population. Although most women still could not vote, the enfranchisement of many working class males increased citizens' representation in local and national government. Events such as the Enlightenment and Atlantic Revolutions contributed to this spread of democratic ideals.

The growth of democracy continued and expanded during the Industrial Revolution. Industrialization improved the standard of living overall in Europe, but the daily lives of workers and the poor showed the costs. This led to a demand for increased rights and a voice in government decisions. While some peacefully protested, many aggressively attacked government policies, resulting in tensions and violence.

The result was varying degrees of political reform in many European cities and countries. The harsh costs of industrialization increased the need for political organizations, such as labor unions and political parties, new programs, and legislation. The forces of liberalism also contributed to calls for change, as liberal leaders used the evils of industrialization to fight for changes to traditional governments. The roots of European democracy began with the Glorious and French Revolutions when many first questioned the power of absolute monarchs. During the Industrial Revolution, reformers sought to extend democracy into industrial life.

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Historical Investigation — Democracy in Industrial Europe

Directions: For this activity, open the student resource titled "Historical Investigation - Democracy in Industrial Europe." Use the documents to determine the extent to which democracy grew in Britain and France during the Industrial Revolution.

  1. Download Student Resource: Historical Investigation - Democracy in Industrial Europe (doc).
  2. Select the link to review the how to complete a Historical Investigation.
  3. Submit your answers to the completed historical investigation to your teacher as instructed.


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Democracy grew in response to the costs of industrialization in countries such as Britain and France during the 19th century.